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Reis & Pellicano International Lawyers

What are your impressions of Portuguese customer service?  

Posts: 12
Premium Member
Active Member
Joined: 3 months ago

Hi there

I’d like to know people’s thoughts here on customer service in Portugal, namely Portuguese customer service whether in shops or dealing with businesses (not customer services from non-Portuguese such as expats).

So far in my dealings: complete lack of empathy, indifference to customer needs, and lack of customer interest. Also, a shortsightedness in terms of what the customer needs or expects.

What’s your view? And if it’s negative, any tips for getting around it?


2 Replies

Posts: 329
Active Member
Joined: 9 months ago

The biggest thing that I noticed when I arrived in Portugal is how slow things happen...

I started a small business and had to continuously chase up a textile manufacturing quote I had requested - it was like they did not want my business. After 3 months of waiting for my quote and asking where it was I got fed up and finally responded to a company in Peru who wanted to quote me. Within 24 hours I had my price.

Then when I told the Portuguese company I wasn't going to wait any longer, they changed and desperately wanted me to reconsider. I told them where to go 🙂

However, on dealings with a completely different company for textile manufacturing, I found them to be efficient, reliable and courteous. So perhaps it comes down to the individual.

Another funny story is a couple of weeks ago I went into the SEF office to ask for some information. The place was completely empty except for the 4 ladies behind the counter.

I asked if any of them spoke English and no one did (a bit odd for an office for foreigners). So in my best Portuguese, I asked for the information I was after. They told me they could not answer my questions and that I had to go to the website or call one of the two phone numbers they gave me.

I go to the site and the information I needed wasn't there, so I called the phone numbers only to get an answering machine telling me to go to the website!

Anyhow, not too sure why there were 4 people working if they weren't there to serve customers and answer questions. It is just the way it is in Portugal.


Posts: 320
Reputable Member
Joined: 9 months ago

I think this is a very interesting subject. I can fully appreciate your comments @thr238 and I have often thought there is a business opportunity to provide Customer Service training in Portugal. I can think of many times where shops and businesses have lost my patronage, simply because of a lack of attention on their part. Another thing that infuriates me is the lack of follow up from businesses for example when something goes wrong or they can't turn up at the agreed time and they don't bother to tell you. And don't get me going on the queues to pay at Leroy Merlin that can snake halfway through the store. Why don't the spot people like me who will leave the trolley and walk out when they could open a few more tills.

On the other hand, I am frequently surprised by people who will go out of their way to help. Just recently I went into a shop in Tomar looking for a certain type of razor. The elderly woman could not help but she took me by the arm, led me to the street corner and pointed to a shop that did have what I wanted. I also love using a petrol station where the attendant serves you and I deliberately go to one of these when I have overseas friends visiting just to see their expressions of amazement. I know a local builder and his trademark is to always do something extra at no cost. And then there is my tyre guy who is very competitive and checks my tyre pressures for free anytime I am passing. I could go on.......

So good and bad in my view although can't help thinking about that training course 😀  


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